In collaboration with eight other University Departments of Rural Health (UDRHs) around Australia, the Centre for Rural Health has recently completed a collaborative project exploring the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural or remote clinical placements undertaken by health students in 2021 and 2022. Rural and remote placements are an important avenue for promoting future rural workforce participation by allowing health students to live and learn in a rural or remote setting whilst completing their degree. Poor placement experiences can impact student satisfaction and discourage future rural practice, which must be avoided given the current shortage of health professionals across regional, rural and remote Australia.
Overall, the research found that the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact all aspects of rural and remote placements undertaken in 2021 and 2022. However, these impacts appear to be lessening over time, and affecting placements in different ways. The nature of these impacts have been summarised in a report. The study findings provide guidance for rural and remote health services and UDRHs as to how health students can be better supported whilst undertaking rural and remote placements in pandemic circumstances.
For further information regarding the outcomes of the study, the final report can be publicly accessed via the link below.